WATERVILLE — With sadness and hugs, many students departed the Colby College campus Sunday after school officials decided to end in-person classes for the semester in response to the coronavirus.

Colby students were asked last week to start moving off campus over the weekend as the school prepares to end the academic year as an online-only college.

As of Sunday, the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention had recorded three presumptive positive tests and three preliminary presumptive tests under review.

Maine CDC is also reviewing two more preliminary presumptive positive cases, which means that they’ve been tested at nongovernment labs but not validated by Maine CDC.

Presumptive positive tests are those that Maine CDC itself has conducted or verified. The tests need be confirmed by U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Colby College student Helen Wang of California carries a giant pink teddy bear as she and other students loaded their belongings and left school in Waterville Sunday. Wang said the bear, which belongs to a friend, was traveling to New York. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

Students were notified late Thursday morning by Colby College President David Greene, who said the college would hold regularly scheduled classes and activities through March 14, but students that could reasonably move off campus by Sunday should.

On Sunday, students on campus and at the downtown dormitory continued packing their belongings and preparing to move home.

Gabriel Dumoulin, a junior at Colby, was parked outside of the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons packing up his vehicle and getting ready for a six-hour drive to Connecticut.

“It’s a bummer and I’m disappointed about having to move out,” Dumoulin said. “But it’s the right thing to do. (The school’s response) has been pretty good. It would have been nice to have a few more days to move, but I totally understand the need to get us all off of campus.”

Dumoulin said many of his instructors have already began working to create online platforms for when classes resume in two weeks.

“It will be interesting,” he said. “It will also be fun to be back at home with my family.”

Colby College student Gabriel Dumoulin of Connecticut talks about traveling home Sunday after loading his belongs into his vehicle outside the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons , a Colby dorm in downtown Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

Jared Fong, a Colby senior, said he is excited to move home to Massachusetts early.

“It’s a good time to be moving and it’s a good time for a transition,” Fong said. “Most of my classes are discussion-based, so they will be pretty easy to change over to online forums.”

In response to the coronavirus and how quickly it evolved, Fong said he thought Colby was correct in choosing to have students leave campus.

“In the context of how quickly this has all accelerated,” Fong said, “I think the college made the right choice.”

At the Colby campus Sunday, dining services set up snacks and beverages for students who were packing to leave.

Rose Bernard, Betsy Lindell and Judy Milan were among those from Colby dining services who were helping serve food. Bernard said that on Saturday, the dining staff served about 150 students, and about the same number were expected Sunday.

“It’s a big thank you and goodbye to students,” Bernard said.

Lindell said the past few days on campus have been emotional for many students, including those who have been struggling to make travel arrangements to get home. Lindell said she even offered to open her home to a student from Hong Kong.

“He’s from Hong Kong and he can’t go home because of the flight restrictions, and he needed a place to stay,” Lindell said. “It’s a real community up here.”

Lindell said it has been tough — and sometimes sad — watching students as they prepare to leave campus.

Rose Bernard Colby College dining services stocks food items Sunday before she and other staff served students and their parents during a going away giveaway outside the dorms at the college in Waterville. Bernard said she’d served 150 people on Saturday and was anticipating about 150 more on Sunday. Bernard said it their way to give students a “big thank you and goodbye.” Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

“All the kids have been hugging,” Lindell said. “We’ve cried for them, too. We’ve been trying to get their spirits up. It’s a tough decision for the kids.”

Like the University of Maine System and Thomas College, Colby is one of thousands of colleges and universities across the state, nation and planet to cancel in-person classes for the semester because of the coronavirus.


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